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CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at or about 7:30 p.m.
Present: Members John Avdoulos, Victor Cassis, Andrew Gutman, Michael Lynch, Michael Meyer, Mark Pehrson, Wayne Wrobel
Absent: Lynn Kocan (excused), David Lipski (excused)
Also Present: Barbara McBeth, Director of Planning; Jason Myers, Planner; Mark Spencer, Planner; Lance Shipman, Landscape Architect; Brian Coburn, Civil Engineer; Alex Rucinsky, Traffic Consultant; John Freeland, Wetland Consultant; Larry DeBrincat, Woodland Consultant; David Gillam, City Attorney
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Landscape Architect Lance Shipman led the meeting attendees in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF AGENDA
Both sets of minutes were removed from the Agenda at the request of Chair Cassis. Member Pehrson asked that the Joint Meeting and potential meeting dates be added to Matters for Discussion.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Avdoulos:
VOICE VOTE ON AGENDA APPROVAL MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER AVDOULOS:
Motion to approve the Agenda of January 25, 2006 as amended. Motion carried 7-0.
No one from the audience wished to speak.
There was no Correspondence to share.
There were no Committee Reports.
PLANNING DIRECTOR REPORT
Director of Planning Barbara McBeth reported that at the regular City Council meeting, two text amendments were approved for their first reading – The Subdivision Ordinance and the Landbanking of Parking Spaces. Ms. McBeth said that Lance Shipman, the City’s Landscape Architect, was leaving the employ of the City. The Planning Commission presented Mr. Shipman with a token of their appreciation. Chair Cassis cited Mr. Shipman’s professionalism and wished him well.
CONSENT AGENDA - REMOVALS AND APPROVAL
There was no Consent Agenda.
1. Tuscany Reserve RUD, SP05-69
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes, Inc. for revised Preliminary Site Plan, Wetland Permit, Woodland Permit, and Storm Water Management Plan approvals. The subject property is located in Section 32, north of Eight Mile, east of Garfield Road, in the R-A, Residential Acreage District. The subject property is approximately 77.37 acres.
Planner Jason Myers described the property. The site is undeveloped, though some site clearing work has already been performed. The ell-shaped property of 77 acres has 1,075 linear feet along Eight Mile, and 770 linear feet along Garfield Road. To the north are rural residential lots and parkland. To the south is rural residential in Northville Township. To the west of Garfield Road is vacant land. To the east of Garfield Road is property owned by Northville Schools. To the east of the subject property is Maybury Park Estates. The Master Plan calls for Single Family Residential to the east, south and west. The City-owned property is planned for public use, and there is the land planned for an educational facility. Land in Northville Township is planned for Single Family Residential as well. All of the Novi land is zoned R-A, Residential Acreage. The Northville Township land is zoned is R-1/R-2, Single Family Residential.
There are wetlands in the middle of the property. The property straddles the Rouge and Huron River watersheds. The wetlands are in the Rouge watershed. The adjacent City property houses a large wetland system that is in the Huron watershed. A Wetland Permit has previously been approved for this development, though it requires a re-approval because there is an additional buffer impact of about 481 square feet in the vicinity of a new cul-de-sac on Castello Court. The new Wetland Permit would be issued on this new site plan number for Maybury Park.
There is a light cover woodland on much of the site. About 16 acres in the northeast corner of the site is the most wooded, and includes a few historic farm fencerows that have become wooded. A Woodland Permit was previously approved, though the changes to the plan require an update to the Woodland Permit. There is an additional impact of 15 trees.
Mr. Myers said that the Planning Commission last saw this plan on September 28, 2005, when they gave a positive recommendation to City Council for the phasing aspect of the revised RUD. The RUD revision also included a gated community feature, which removed the stub street connection between this site and Maybury Park Estates. The Planning Commission recommended a rejection of the stub street removal and the request for a gated feature. City Council reviewed and approved all of the Applicant’s requests on October 10, 2005.
Mr. Myers said that all disciplines recommended approval of the plan, with minor changes to be made on the next submittal. The Eight Mile entry has been upgraded to allow room for a schoolbus to turn around before the gate. The changes were detailed in the OHM letter. The Engineering Department and the Landscape Architect did not have any problems with this new design.
Mr. Myers said that the temporary access to Garfield Road for Phase I must be paved or a City Council waiver must be granted. The Applicant is aware of this and they are going to seek a waiver. The path connection between this site and Maybury Park Estates does not meet the standards for a bike path as required by City Council. The Applicant has indicated that the changes will be made on the next plan submittal.
Joe Galvan represented the Applicant. He introduced Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes and Pat Keast of Seiber Keast. Mr. Galvan said that he believed the issue with paving the temporary access road was previously resolved and paving was not necessary at this time. Otherwise, Mr. Galvan said that other comments made by Mr. Myers were all correct, and he noted that the plan was previously approved through final, but the changes at the table were made to accommodate a gated community.
No one from the audience wished to speak so Chair Cassis closed the Public Hearing.
Member Pehrson asked about the paved road. City Attorney David Gillam said that on page five of the minutes, mention is made of the requirement for, "…an all-weather road base capable of supporting 35 tons connecting to Garfield Road in Phase II during Phase I construction, with an appropriate bond." There is also a statement by Mr. Galvan that the temporary road would be constructed. Mr. Gillam did not see where a waiver was granted by City Council.
Mr. Galvan said that in his opinion the language just cited by Mr. Gillam was the waiver. He said they would build a road that meets that specification. Mr. Galvan said he thought the issue was two inches of paving. Mr. Gillam said that City Council was the only body that could grant a Design and Construction Standards Waiver. Mr. Gillam said that the language in the Planning Commission’s motion indicated that there would need to be a waiver of the actual paving itself. Mr. Galvan interjected that the City Council approved their request, so he felt that City Council’s approval included this paving waiver.
Member Pehrson did not understand the case to be as Mr. Galvan suggested. In order to meet the criteria listed in the Planning Commission’s motion, the road would have to be paved. Civil Engineer Brian Coburn stated that the term, "all weather access," goes hand in hand with the word "paved." Member Pehrson said the motion should contain this language, and should be interpreted that it requires the road to be paved.
Member Pehrson asked about the RUD. He understood that the eight-foot wide bike path would be provided. The Master Deed will be submitted at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. He asked about the passing lane recommended on Garfield Road. The Applicant responded that this passing lane is not warranted, and is not part of the established RUD. He asked if the Planning Commission could request this passing lane. Mr. Gillam asked whether the passing lane was shown on the Applicant’s concept plan submitted with the RUD proposal. Director of Planning Barbara McBeth responded that the original Concept Plan did not show a passing lane, nor did any of the previous plans. This is really a new request. Member Pehrson confirmed that City Council would have come to an agreement with the Applicant regarding this stipulation.
Traffic Consultant Alex Rucinsky explained that the passing lane was requested for the future benefit of the area. It would be easier to put this passing lane in place now than to wait. Member Pehrson asked if the turning radii were appropriate at both entrances. Mr. Rucinsky responded that there is turning room available off of Garfield for a bus or emergency vehicle. The Eight Mile entry would probably be the location of a bus stop, which has a wider entry way.
Member Pehrson talked about the suggestion regarding 50-foot tangents between the reverse curves. The Applicant has responded that the request cannot be done because of the reconfigured lots. Mr. Rucinsky said that the introduction of a 50-foot tangent in between reverse curves would result in a reconfiguration of the lots, due to the fact that it is not presently there, instead of a curvilinear nature on the front of the lots facing the road. Some of them may be a straight line to the tangent. The reason for the recommendation is that it is a predominant AASHTO standard, to prevent vehicles from crossing the center line as they come out of a turn. It is a safety factor. In a low speed environment such as this, it is not as much of a factor as it would be on a collector or arterial road. The Consultant wished to remain consistent in requesting that these be installed. He said that there is less of a likelihood for a problem due to the slower speed.
Mr. Galvan responded that he did not see a manner in which the Applicant would provide this request, given the layout of the subdivision. The road pattern was designed based on planning principles and previous suggestions asking for the curvilinear design. Mr. Galvan said the Applicant felt the passing lane on Garfield Road was unnecessary and something that would have to be paid for by someone else. Mr. Galvan concurred with Member Pehrson that it is a cost issue, and he added that there is no safety issue relating to this request for a passing lane. There are a number of amenities already provided with this plan, which has already been approved, and the Applicant does not believe it is necessary or functional to install that passing lane. He said that he heard the Consultant say that the request is meant to assist traffic from future development.
Member Pehrson was disappointed that this developer would not agree to provide that passing lane, especially in light of the future traffic. Mr. Galvan said that this project would not create such an impact, and they did provide improvements to Eight Mile.
Mr. Pehrson still did not like the idea of gated communities. He suggested that at some point in time the Planning Commission refer the subject back to the Implementation Committee for discussion. Chair Cassis agreed and suggested that Member Pehrson’s comment be put into action; he asked that Ms. McBeth follow up on that issue.
Member Avdoulos has watched this project from the beginning. He felt that there were missed opportunities for this project to provide certain things requested by the Master Plan. The disheartening fact is that when this plan first came forward as a concept plan, it was indicated that this development would maintain a rural character and would take advantage of the aesthetics of the openness. It would take advantage of Maybury Park. The first Preliminary Site Plan to come forward did not emulate that vision at all. It proposed a gated community, which sort of suggests that the development plans to be exclusionary rather than tying in with the openness of the area. As the plan developed further, the proposals and plans didn’t have gates, which was a plus. The plans worked with the openness and the parks. A plan was designed to connect this plan with Maybury Park Estates to the east. The Planning Commission saw this, approved of the plans, and now the Applicant decides to amend the RUD to get gates. That is where the plan stands today. Member Avdoulos said that this is a topic that the Planning Commission should discuss with City Council. At times, he feels that he wastes his time going through the planning process when the recommendations made by the Planning Commission fall on deaf ears or other things are brought forth that may seem more important. The Planning Commission is then left to approve something with which it is not 100% happy.
Member Avdoulos said that one missed opportunity is the interconnection to Maybury Park Estates, because now the plan will prohibit simple things like carpooling with a neighbor without traveling on a main thoroughfare. The point is to avoid congestion in the City’s traffic. Member Avdoulos said he previously asked Mr. Guidobono whether bicyclists would be able to ride through the site, even with the gates. Mr. Guidobono told him that would be possible, and Member Avdoulos hoped that it was.
Member Avdoulos understood the request for the road design, and that it would control the speed limit. If the Consultants are looking at the safety factor, Member Avdoulos wanted to make sure that the Applicant was cognizant of the situation. If any safety concerns arise, the responsibility falls upon the Applicant.
Member Wrobel agreed with the comments made by the other Planning Commission members. His three concerns included his position on gated communities. He agreed that this issue must be settled by the Planning Commission. He said that the Garfield Road passing lane may not be needed today, but it might be needed ten years down the road. It would be easier to install it now than later, which could be at the City’s cost. He was not happy that there was no interconnection with Maybury Park Estates. This is a planning decision designed to keep unnecessary traffic off of the major roads.
Member Lynch asked the Applicant if the gate was meant to improve his financial position or attract a certain clientele. If the gate improves the Applicant’s ability to sell his homes, which improves the City’s tax base, then Member Lynch did not think that he understood the issue in its entirety. Mr. Galvan responded that the gated community will improve the sales price and the tax revenue to the City. It will reduce costs because now the streets will be private. Mr. Galvan continued that this project has already been reviewed and approved, through City Council, to gate the community and close the connection to Maybury Park. Mr. Galvan said that through this process, the Applicant has made a number of concessions with the design of the project and with the infrastructure improvements. These are of great benefit to the City.
Mr. Galvan said that the original street layout was designed to be a traffic calming device. It was meant to improve aesthetics and increase safety. An earlier Consultant did not recommend that this plan be changed. It is not that the Applicant is resisting to resist, but he is resisting because they have gone through the procedures already. The issue of the Garfield Road traffic improvement was never suggested until this request. Mr. Galvan said that the issue for such an improvement is always, "Who is asked to pay for a future improvement?" To the extent that this project is having an impact on traffic, the Applicant is installing road improvements along Eight Mile.
Mr. Galvan understood that there are Planning Commission members who opposed the gated community concept. However, his point was that this review was for Preliminary Site Plan approval in keeping with the set of approvals that were already granted by City Council.
Member Gutman said that he could hear the frustration in the Applicant’s voice as it related to the gated community issue. Member Gutman was pleased that the Planning Commission has chosen to address this matter further as an outside issue. Member Gutman commended the Planning Commission for its trying to ensure the consistency of its policies.
Chair Cassis thought that this development had a small frontage on Garfield Road, yet there is access. To Chair Cassis, a rural road that does not have that much development on it would be safer if it were kept in its rural state. Making it wider and paving it would bring more speeding cars.
Chair Cassis loved gated communities. He thought they were good and there are already some in the community. This is a quality developer who builds two million dollar homes. Those homeowners are paying so much in taxes. Chair Cassis did not think they should be condemned for living in a gated community. A previous mayor lives in a gated community. She went to City Council and begged for approval of a gate because there were incidents that occurred on her street. These were homes that were already built, and yet the homeowners sought the gate. He agreed that this issue should be settled.
Chair Cassis said that Cambridge Homes builds quality developments. They build quality homes and they attract people who are picky. If there is something that is not right, these customers will not buy the home. Chair Cassis looked at the first page of the packet, wherein the disciplines have stated the plan meets requirements. When Chair Cassis is told that the plan meets requirements, he did not feel that he could further comment. He agreed that there were controversial issues regarding Garfield Road’s passing lane and whether asphalt was necessary for the development. These can be philosophical discussions for everybody to discuss. Chair Cassis said that City Council has approved of this plan. He asked what else was needed. Is a bikepath needed? Chair Cassis said that the Applicant has indicated he will try to provide it as much as possible in order to meet requirements. Chair Cassis did not see much left to discuss.
Mr. Gillam said that there are aspects on the site plan that the Planning Commission is not comfortable with, and may not have been recommended for approval to City Council. The gate and connection issues are two such items. There are also issues regarding Garfield Road and the layout of the development’s roads. These are valid concerns, but it is important that this Planning Commission review must be done within the context of the City Council’s approval of the revised RUD, and the concept plan that was part of that. The issues raised at this meeting may be valid issues, but the Planning Commission’s scope of review on this plan is limited.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
In the matter of the request of Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes for Tuscany Reserve RUD, SP05-69, motion to grant approval of the revised Site Plan, subject to: 1) The Applicant providing a bike connection to Maybury Park that meets the City’s Design and Construction Standards; 2) Inclusion of changes to the Eight Mile entrance that have been reviewed by the Traffic Consultant and meets their expectations; 3) The Applicant providing secondary access to Garfield Road as part of Phase I construction to the satisfaction of the City’s Fire Marshal and City Engineer; and 4) All of the comments in the review letters being addressed in the Final Site Plan submittal; for the reason that the Plan meets the intent of the Master Plan for Land Use.
Member Avdoulos thought that the City Attorney’s comments were on target. The Planning Commission’s issue is that they go through the approval process but when the plan comes back it is different from what they had approved. Now, the Planning Commission is up against the wall. In this case, this plan may meet the intent of the agreement between this Applicant and City Council, but it is not the same as what this Planning Commission has previously approved. If a Consultant makes a recommendation on a re-review of the plan, the Planning Commission must also take those comments into account. What the Planning Commission is seeing is a plan that they have never seen before, and a plan that they didn’t want in the first place. That is where many of the comments are coming from. In all sincerity, this Planning Commission spent a lot of time on this plan and reviewing the Ordinance. The Planning Commission wants to make the right decisions for the City and for the Planning Department.
Chair Cassis thanked Member Pehrson and the other Planning Commission members. He understood their frustration and their reasoning. He appreciated their sentiments, even though there was not consensus among them. He believed that each Planning Commission member was making the effort to do what was good for the City.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON TUSCANY RESERVE RUD, SP05-69, PRELIMINARY SITE PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of the request of Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes for Tuscany Reserve RUD, SP05-69, motion to grant approval of the revised Site Plan, subject to: 1) The Applicant providing a bike connection to Maybury Park that meets the City’s Design and Construction Standards; 2) Inclusion of changes to the Eight Mile entrance that have been reviewed by the Traffic Consultant and meets their expectations; 3) The Applicant providing secondary access to Garfield Road as part of Phase I construction to the satisfaction of the City’s Fire Marshal and City Engineer; and 4) All of the comments in the review letters being addressed in the Final Site Plan submittal; for the reason that the Plan meets the intent of the Master Plan for Land Use. Motion carried 7-0
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON TUSCANY RESERVE RUD, SP05-69, REVISED WETLAND PERMIT MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of the request of Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes for Tuscany Reserve RUD, SP05-69, motion to grant approval of the revised Wetland Permit for revised buffer impact, subject to all of the comments in the review letters from the Consultants; for the reason that the Plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 7-0
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON TUSCANY RESERVE RUD, SP05-69, REVISED WOODLAND PERMIT MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of the request of Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes for Tuscany Reserve RUD, SP05-69, motion to grant approval of the revised Woodland Permit for the removal of an additional 15 trees, for the reason that the Plan meets the intent of the Ordinance. Motion carried 7-0
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Gutman:
ROLL CALL VOTE ON TUSCANY RESERVE RUD, SP05-69, REVISED STORMWATER MANAGEMENT PLAN MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER GUTMAN:
In the matter of the request of Rick Genrich of Cambridge Homes for
Tuscany Reserve RUD, SP05-69, motion to grant approval of the revised
2. WEST MARKET FUEL, SP05-48A
The Public Hearing was opened on the request of Jonna Companies for Preliminary Site Plan and Special Land Use approval. The subject property is located in Section 17, at the northwest corner of Grand River Avenue and Beck Road in the B-2, Community Business District. The subject property is 1.2 acres and the Applicant isproposing to construct a 4,441 square-foot fuel station and convenience store with a fast food restaurant.
Planner Mark Spencer described the project. The subject property is within the West Market Square condominium. It is adjacent to the TCF property to the north and some MDOT right-of-way land for I-96. To the west is the "Retail East" site plan, housing other retail developments. To the south is Providence Hospital (zoned OSC). Across Beck Road to the east is Sherman Nurseries, Michigan Laser and a vacant parcel with vehicle and equipment storage (zoned OST). The Master Plan indicates that the entire West Market Square is designated for Local Commercial uses, consistent with its B-2 zoning. The east, south and southeast parcels are designated for Office Uses.
There are no regulated woodlands, wetlands or natural features. The site was previously cleared for the West Market Square.
The 4,400 square foot building will house a convenience store. There will be an accessory canopy over the pumps. A gas station with a car wash was originally approved for this site as part of the Providence Park Place development (now known as West Market Square) in 1999. A one-year extension was granted twice by the Planning Commission – in February 2001 and in March 2002. The plan expired in March 2003, and with it, the Special Land Use approval expired as well.
The Preliminary Site Plan was reviewed under the general requirements – Article 14 for the B-2 district, and Section 2400 for the general regulations. The plans demonstrate a general compliance with the Ordinance relating to building, parking setbacks and maximum building height, with some exceptions. The Applicant proposes forty parking spaces on the site, including twelve spaces located under the pump canopy. This is eight short of the 48 required if this was a stand-alone fuel station. Since this site is part of an approved retail center, shared parking is considered for the entire development. Adequate parking is therefore provided. Including the existing center and this gas station, 1,633 spaces are required; 1,646 are proposed.
The Applicant is proposing a large paved area west of the building. He is proposing a twelve-foot wide sidewalk over to Beck Road. The Planning Department recommends reducing the westerly pavement down to a seven-foot wide sidewalk, and reducing the sidewalk to Beck Road to be five feet wide. The Applicant has indicated that he will provide more landscaping on the west side of the building, though not necessarily by installing a reduced seven-foot wide sidewalk. The Applicant will reduce the sidewalk to Beck Road to seven feet. The Applicant said he would reduce the Beck Road sidewalk to five feet. He will provide an easement for the sidewalk where it is not in the road right-of-way.
The Engineering Review and Traffic Review have both approved of the plan, with minor items to be addressed at the time of Final Site Plan submittal. A sixteen-foot wide loading area has been recommended in the Traffic Review. The Applicant would like to maintain the area at twelve feet. Increasing the width of the loading area would be difficult without reducing the size of the building or the landscaping. Since trucks do not generally exceed eight feet in width, the Planning Commission may want to consider the Applicant’s request. Barriers such as bollards or guard rails will be needed to protect the adjoining structures.
Several landscaping issues need to be addressed. The Applicant has requested to reduce the landscaping adjacent to Grand River from 25 feet wide to 20 feet wide, to match the landscaping strip in front of the Retail East building. The 25 feet is required because parking is not adjacent to the landscaping whereas, in front of Retail East, they have parking spaces adjacent to the landscaping.
The Applicant is requesting to substitute parking lot landscaping materials. Specifically, he would like to substitute a small number of evergreen and ornamental trees for required canopy trees, since they are providing more trees than are required on the site. The Applicant has proposed very little foundation landscaping, but he has indicated that he can comply with the requirements. The Applicant is requesting approval of a three-foot screening wall along Beck Road in lieu of a berm due to the grade change on the site. There is a considerable grade change dropping off of Beck Road.
The unloading area is also not adequately screened, but the Applicant has agreed to place a screen wall adjacent the loading zone to meet requirements. The Applicant has also agreed to provide a place for a joint City development sign as was approved on the previous site plan.
The Façade Review and Fire Department Review both recommend approval of the Preliminary Site Plan.
The Special Land Use requires the Applicant to submit a noise analysis, which this Applicant has done. It appears that this plan will meet the City’s requirements. The Ordinance outlines factors that must be considered for a Special Land Use request. Relative to other feasible uses of the site:
Will the proposed use cause any detrimental impact on existing thoroughfares, public services or public facilities?
Is it compatible with the natural environment?
Is it compatible with adjacent land uses?
Is the proposal consistent with the goals, objectives and recommendations of the City’s Master Plan for Land Use?
Does the proposal promote the use of land in a socially and economically desirable manner?
Does it conform to the City’s site design regulations?
The Planning Department believes these conditions have been met. The Planning Commission may impose conditions on the approval of a Special Land Use to insure compliance and compatibility. Although notes were placed on the plan, the Planning Commission may want to consider, as a condition of approval, prohibiting any repair or service work on the site except for fuel dispensing, self serve tire inflation, window cleaning and fluid installation. All other business activity, sales and service shall be conducted inside completely enclosed buildings.
Frank Jonna of the Jonna Companies represented the Applicant. He confirmed that a site plan was approved once before on this site. It had a car wash, which this Applicant has since passed on that idea. The sidewalk along Beck Road took effort to design because it didn’t make sense to go into the right-of-way. Mr. Jonna wondered though, where that sidewalk is supposed to take people. There is no proposed pedestrian traffic beyond this parcel. TCF has no sidewalk. Pedestrian traffic is not encouraged to cross the new Beck Road interchange. The Applicant agrees to put it in, but he is struggling with why, and he would like to consider how it can be made more beneficial.
Mr. Jonna recognized that the loading zone was narrow. They looked at some options, and preferred a design using shared loading with the adjacent building. This is a site condominium and Retail East has a lot of loading space that they would like to share. They’ve looked at some options for that, but apparently this would require action by the ZBA, which they might pursue independently. There is a loading area for the fuel operation and a loading dock behind the building. The Applicant would be amenable to Planning Commission members’ suggestions for enhancement of that area.
The building materials are complementary to the rest of the development. Natural stone, brick and metal will be used.
Mr. Jonna said that originally there was a plan to put a West Market Square identification sign in the corner of the property, which would include a City of Novi component as well. Providence Hospital has been discussing this with them, as they are considering moving the City of Novi sign onto their property. Mr. Jonna felt that might make more sense, as that property really is the gateway to the community. The sign on this property would only be visible to people leaving the community, rather than entering it. Mr. Jonna did not know what the process would be for removing this component from the West Market Square Master Plan. They were willing to work with the City on this issue.
Chair Cassis confirmed that there was no correspondence to share and that no one from the audience wished to speak. He closed the Public Hearing.
Member Wrobel was not a fan of gas stations on corners at major intersections because of potential traffic congestion. He realized that a gas station is required in this area to accommodate the hospital and the shopping center. He was pleased that this station would exude the character of West Market Square.
Member Wrobel asked about the fast food combination. Mr. Jonna said that they are looking at a food operation but they are still exploring their options. It might be a sandwich shop or something that can be conveniently picked up for those who are fueling up. It would be something more substantial than a "Speedway hotdog counter." This operation would be something more along the lines of a Subway. There will be prepared foods in the convenience area, but the plan is to also provide something that is a bit more customized. Member Wrobel thought something like that would do quite well there.
Member Wrobel reiterated that he didn’t like the traffic aspect of a gas station on this corner. Getting in and out will be difficult. He noted there is only one access onto Grand River. Member Wrobel suggested that the curb cut be eliminated and then the customers would have to come in through the more westerly West Market Square entrance. This would get traffic away from the intersection.
Member Lynch appreciated what the Applicant was doing, and how difficult it is. He said this was the entrance to Novi, and the impression that people will have of Novi will be formed at this intersection. He said that right now there is a crooked City of Novi sign, which doesn’t leave the best impression. Member Lynch said that the landscaping on this plan was woefully inadequate. He thought that the corner should exude vibrancy yet be tranquil. When people first enter this area, should they meet gridlock? See a dumpster? A wall? This is their first impression of the City.
Member Lynch thought that with the help of the City’s Landscape Architect this corner could be designed more pleasantly. It could be designed to reduce congestion. This corner will then cast a good impression. This piece of the property is critical in the City of Novi. There is one chance to design this corner correctly. Member Lynch wanted the Applicant to be successful and profitable. However, the short term need to add something to this land does not outweigh the longer term approach of providing a good impression. Member Lynch said the City has to be careful with the landscaping and the message that is sent from this corner. He reiterated that the landscaping must state "vibrant" and ‘tranquil" at the same time.
Member Meyer thought the design looked great. He was concerned about voting for five waivers regarding the landscape. He was not comfortable with that. He hoped that there was some way for the Applicant to address most of the waivers. He empathized with the Applicant regarding the sidewalk that leads nowhere. Novi is known for that. Member Meyer hoped that the Applicant could weather that storm. Member Meyer agreed that this project must cast a good impression.
Member Avdoulos said this corner was looked at over and over. Providence Hospital is going to be a world class facility, not only because of its service but also its appearance. This new interchange has changed the aesthetics of the area. There are a few opportunities for this corner. This particular location is logical for a gas station. When someone pulls of the expressway and heads south on Beck Road, the first thing he is going to see is the back end – a blank wall – of a gas station. This will serve as the entrance beacon into the City. He was concerned about this being a blank wall. Member Avdoulos said this was the same concern for a site on Novi Road near the expressway, on which one of the walls was very daunting. That Applicant came back with a design that provided relief on that wall. This proposed building needs to be designed with four elevations.
Member Avdoulos understood that the back end of Retail East had a back wall too. He always wishes that the appearance of that back side looked more as if it fronted a road as opposed to looking like the delivery area.
Member Avdoulos did not see a floor plan for this plan. It was determined that sheet A-1 was missing. Member Avdoulos was curious about the size of this building – 4,400 square feet. This is bigger than the Standard Federal, and almost as big as the TCF Bank. Member Avdoulos wanted to see the floor plan so he could see whether there were any opportunities to get high glass or something that could spruce up the back side. He really wanted to make sure that the building was appropriate for the site. He was not saying that the use was inappropriate – he felt that it was a logical use for this corner.
Member Avdoulos was concerned about traffic too. He cited the corner at Twelve Mile and Halsted as an intersection where a corner gas station creates traffic problems. Some traffic problems have been alleviated with the design of the new Beck Road interchange, but there still is confusion.
Member Avdoulos wished to confirm that there was no plan for a walk across Beck Road. Member Avdoulos said that the expressway turns are so wide that he would find it to be a safety hazard to continue across on foot or on bike if someone is making a left turn. Director of Planning Barbara McBeth said that the initial plans for the interchange did not call for any pedestrian crossing at that point. However, Mr. Spencer and the Environmental Committee are looking at the pathways. There might be a possibility to add something after the fact.
Member Avdoulos, as a Planning Commission member, would look to sacrifice the sidewalk. It only leads to the porkchop, and then all that is left is a drive. He would then barter for better landscaping to enhance the corner.
Mr. Spencer said that there is a sidewalk along the drive to the bank. There is a connection to the bank, on the other side of the drive. Member Avdoulos said that even if that were eliminated, a pedestrian could still walk along Grand River, and cut into the development from there. Mr. Spencer said that the sidewalk connection goes to the store and to the bank. Without it, there is no sidewalk, and pedestrians would have to walk through the driveways into the site. With the hospital across the street, Mr. Spencer envisioned a fair amount of pedestrian traffic to come use this store. Member Avdoulos hoped that there would be pedestrian traffic too. He said this was just an example of how the site could be enhanced. If there is logic that dictates that the sidewalk should remain, then he would leave it at that.
The importance of this site dictates that the Planning Commission provides ample feedback for the Applicant. He would encourage the Applicant to continue working on his plan. He didn’t know if he was ready to approve or disapprove this plan. Member Avdoulos agreed with Member Meyer that as many of the waiver requests as possible should be removed. Member Avdoulos asked Landscape Architect Lance Shipman to comment. He also wondered whether the Applicant had designed too large of a building. Should it be reduced to provide more space to meet the requirements of the Ordinance?
Mr. Shipman explained the various waiver requests. The types of trees that the Applicant wishes to provide may be slightly different from what is standard. The Applicant has suggested that he would be able to meet the number of trees required; he just wanted some latitude in tree choice. The language, "…the Applicant continuing to work with the City on the landscape design," would be beneficial in the motion. The Applicant is getting closer to an acceptable level on this issue, he just needs a bit more work on the minor details.
The waiver along Grand River is necessary for this proposal. The Applicant would like to maintain the same frontage lines as what is designed for Retail East. This is a twenty-foot setback from the right-of-way. This piece does not have parking in the area, which creates the problem of requiring five more feet of setback. This Applicant is maintaining the landscaping along Grand River. There will be some enhancement to correct deficiencies and troubled species for the area. This Applicant is proposing a design that has already been approved. This request is not out of line, based on what exists on this site plan already.
The waiver for the berm along Beck Road may have a partial solution. This Applicant can narrow the sidewalk, and relocate it away from the parking. This will allow them to reach the required twenty-foot distance. They would rather provide a 30-inch screen wall in lieu of the berm, in order to provide effective screening of the car headlights. In this case, this is very important. Mr. Shipman reiterated that this is the first piece of property seen from someone entering the City from the new interchange. Mr. Shipman said that Beck Road sits lower than this site by about three to four feet. He wasn’t sure what the final grade on this site would be, but if this site ends up higher than Beck Road, this exacerbates the issue and makes it worse. The introduction of a screen wall may be a more appropriate design and would definitely block the headlight shed from the cars that will park in those parking spots. The material of the wall is expected to be the same as the building material throughout the development. Mr. Shipman said that the City hoped it would be an attractive wall. Landscaping between the wall and the sidewalk could still take place. This would enhance the frontage of the wall. The Applicant is moving in the right direction. They are seeking a waiver of the berm in lieu of a wall, which is within the purview of the Planning Commission.
Mr. Shipman said the building foundation landscape waiver may not be needed. The Applicant has made strides in redesigning the site to remove this issue.
The required loading zone screening is a touchy issue. The Applicant might introduce a screen wall. This might be appropriate because it is a narrow spot. It is the first thing seen from the expressway because TCF is set further back on the site. The City doesn’t want backhouse activity as much as possible. A screenwall would provide a better barrier than plant material, as it would not require a maturation period and it would work even in the winter. This is an active loading zone area, which will stress the plant materials. The screen wall should be considered in conjunction with climbing vines or narrow material. This would provide softness to the wall. It’s not really a waiver as long as the Applicant provides effective screening.
The City sign was approved for West Market Square. No formal commitment has been made to relocate the City identification sign to Providence. Mr. Shipman said that it was important not to lose this space for a sign, in the event that the Providence location doesn’t come through. He said that he didn’t want to create a hurdle for this Applicant; therefore he suggested that the sign remain on the plan, with the statement, "…the sign remains here until such time that another approved location is found to be adequate." This is meant to keep the Applicant from having to return to the Planning Commission in order to get the sign removed from the plan. He was not sure whether there was a simple way to accomplish that. Mr. Shipman did think that the City was en route to having the sign location on Providence’s property. But he wanted that location guaranteed before this Applicant is off the hook.
Mr. Shipman said that this Applicant is really down to two or three waivers. They have come a long way on this plan. Gas stations always provide a challenge when it comes to aesthetic improvements. This Applicant is making big strides, and he complimented the Applicant for his hard work thus far.
Member Avdoulos liked the idea of an identification sign. He noted that gas price signs are now ground mounted signs too. He would like to see how this property will accommodate this amount of signage.
Member Avdoulos thought that a convenience store/gas station would do well on this corner and can be done tastefully. There are ways to create a nice view shed, as the TCF Bank and West Market Square in general have both done.
Member Avdoulos said he would prefer that this plan be postponed. This would give the Applicant time so he can provide a revised elevation for the area to the north and present his landscape plan revisions.
Chair Cassis asked Member Avdoulos what he would recommend for the north side of the building. Member Avdoulos said that a screen wall would be appropriate for the screening of the deliveries. The brick screen wall could be topped with metal lattice to support vinery, which would soften the look. He would like the Applicant to consider grid work pattern ornamental iron work on the top, with some clear story glazing in the back to get light in. A plain brick wall does not greet anybody.
Member Avdoulos would like to see the landscape screen wall designed with a cut-through section that would show where Beck Road is in relation to the surface of the parking and filling area. Member Avdoulos thought this similar situation existed further down Grand River, where the parking lot lights would shine right at eye level if the wall wasn’t approved. He thought this property was also appropriate for the screen wall. Member Avdoulos liked the progress that is being made, but he couldn’t approve of this plan in its current form.
Member Pehrson thought this, too, was the right place for the project. The Special Land Use permit is fine for this, as it is the right site.
Moved by Member Pehrson, seconded by Member Wrobel:
In the matter of the request of Jonna Companies for West Market Fuel, SP05-48a, motion to postpone the hearing until such time that some of the comments made tonight can be addressed, with the plan returning to the Planning Commission at the earliest possible convenience. Motion carried 7-0.
Chair Cassis did not wish to postpone the matter if the Applicant was not in favor of that action. He said that an alternative would be for this plan to be approved subject to the comments made at this meeting.
Member Pehrson thought that some of the issues were worthy enough that they really should be brought back as a new submittal. There have been previous instances where the Planning Commission was not in unison regarding brick walls in lieu of berms.
Mr. Jonna asked to respond to a couple of issues. He suggested that the one sidewalk could be ended where it tees into the building. Then, a crosswalk could be created at the west end of the building. That would get people across the development to the TCF bank. This would allow for more greenspace at the corner. It would still get people into the development, the convenience store and the TCF. He did agree that the intersection area might not be viable for pedestrian crossing because cars are turning in quickly there.
Mr. Jonna noted that the approaches to this project currently exist. There is no left turn movement from Beck Road into this station. The design was meant to stretch the distance from the intersection to the first opening to the west. This is much different from a typical gas station, where the opening can be as close as fifty feet from the intersection. They are very sensitive to the traffic safety issue as well.
Mr. Jonna said that the identification sign was approved on the Master Plan. The site plan for this gas station has already expired. Mr. Jonna said that he is not stating that he wouldn’t put the sign there, as he has no problem with the sign being there, but he didn’t think it should be tied to this approval; it belongs the Master Plan of the site. Mr. Jonna thought that the sign might be better placed at the intersection, if in fact the sign stays on this site. That might be more appropriate.
Mr. Jonna said there is some additional land north of TCF. Landscaping can be enhanced in that area, and will create a positive first impression.
Mr. Jonna said that the Applicant tried numerous elevations to address the north side of the building. They have a philosophical issue that there is a function to be had by the loading area/back end of the store. This has to be satisfied. Spandrel has been added to the east elevation to try give that portion of the building more appeal. Buildings that are seen from all four sides have to look good, but he also wants the customers to feel a sense of arrival. He wants them to know where the front door is. The canopy treatment should help facilitate this. He will look at possible enhancements for the north side, but he was not sure if clear story glass would function well.
Member Pehrson thought those were all great comments. The Planning Commission cannot ask for anything more with regard to the rapport between this Applicant and the City.
Member Pehrson asked who owned the northerly property of which Mr. Jonna spoke. He clarified that the property is owned by Providence Hospital. West Market Square is a partnership between Mr. Jonna’s company and Providence Hospital. Technically, they own it. Technically, it is not even available to them; there was an agreement between MDOT and Providence to use that area. It is still under the control of MDOT until June 1, 2006. Mr. Jonna was not part of that negotiation, but he knew that Providence has expressed interest in bringing that land into this development. It has not yet been done but it is the logical thing to do. He expected that enhancements could be planted there.
Chair Cassis thought the discussion was productive. He also said that he loved the sidewalk. He saw a lonely woman walking from I-275 to a gas station. He thought it would be lovely for a sidewalk to be in place in case of this problem happening here.
Mr. Jonna said that there is too much parking in the shopping center as a whole, and he knew that green space was important. He wondered about landbanking, but Chair Cassis interjected that Mr. Jonna should not continue; he had said enough.
Member Avdoulos said that the northerly elevation did not have to be completely made over; at least some of it should be given a treatment to break up the boring appearance of the wall.
Member Meyer thanked the Applicant and asked him not to return with ample waiver requests.
ROLL CALL VOTE ON WEST MARKET FUEL, SP05-48A, POSTPONEMENT MOTION MADE BY MEMBER PEHRSON AND SECONDED BY MEMBER WROBEL:
In the matter of the request of Jonna Companies for West Market Fuel, SP05-48a, motion to postpone the hearing until such time that some of the comments made tonight can be addressed, with the plan returning to the Planning Commission at the earliest possible convenience. Motion carried 7-0.
MATTERS FOR CONSIDERATION
There were no Matters for Consideration.
CONSENT AGENDA REMOVALS FOR COMMISSION ACTION
There were no Consent Agenda Removals.
MATTERS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Joint Meeting Discussion and Potential Meeting Dates
Member Pehrson said that an overture was made at the Joint Meeting to schedule another meeting to continue the discussion held between the Planning Commission and the City Council. Director of Planning Barbara McBeth responded that she spoke with Maryanne Cornelius regarding potential dates. It might be possible to schedule something in February. After that, the City Council gets into extensive budget sessions. Ms. McBeth offered to bring back some potential dates at the next meeting. She agreed to ask Mr. Helwig if he would like to return for this follow-up discussion. Chair Cassis was pleased by that because he showed such enthusiasm for the process at the last meeting.
Member Pehrson thought it was important that these meetings continue, and that their frequency be geared up a notch. These should be events that happen with specific goals in mind. The meetings could be quarterly or semi-annually. Member Pehrson thought that a template should be made that matches City Council’s goal setting. This would help the Planning Commission understand the strategy, goals and action. He thought the Planning Commission and City Council should adopt this strategic thinking process to address the City’s future.
Member Meyer agreed, and thought the meetings should be held quarterly. He also said their meetings should be appropriate, and not scheduled just for the two bodies to meet. He felt a real sharing of ideas at the last joint meeting. He appreciated how the meeting was run, and that time frames were met.
Member Gutman suggested that the Planning Commission work with Ms. McBeth in providing potential dates. This could facilitate scheduling this meeting more quickly, which he felt was very important to do. Ms. McBeth agreed to get the e-mails rolling, and she would also formulate a list of agenda topics.
There were no Supplemental Issues.
No one from the Audience wished to participate.
Moved by Member Avdoulos, seconded by Member Pehrson:
Motion to adjourn.
The meeting adjourned at or about 9:45 p.m.
SCHEDULED AND ANTICIPATED MEETINGS
WED 02/08/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 02/13/06 CITY COUNCIL INTERVIEWS 7:00 PM
MON 02/20/06 CITY OFFICES CLOSED
WED 02/22/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 03/06/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
TUE 03/07/06 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS 7:30 PM
WED 03/08/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
MON 03/20/06 CITY COUNCIL MEETING 7:00 PM
WED 03/22/06 PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING 7:30 PM
Transcribed by Jane L. Schimpf, February 15, 2006 Signature on File
Approved: February 22, 2006 Angela Pawlowski, Planning Assistant Date